Random Nude Fighting Double Feature: Saturn 3 & Eastern Promises

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC Random Nude Fighting Double Feature: Saturn 3 & Eastern Promises

Yet again we are prepping for an episode of ’11 Questions with…’ This time it’s going to be a bonus sized edition with legendary filmmaker John Carpenter on Monday April 2nd 2012!

So, as happened before the inaugural piece with the lovely Tuesday Knight, I’ll be doing a post a day until the big unveiling!

Now, on with similar subject matter to yesterday’s post!…



So, yeah… Saturn 3 (1980), not a great movie. Never has been.

But, once every few years, when the moon waxes red, like shimmering crimson in the black of night I am compelled to watch it, like the salmon are compelled to travel up stream each spring to mate… and die.

Farrah Fawcett’s hair is gorgeous in the film and her acting (even in this role) is far beyond what most gave her credit for at the time. Kirk Douglas is his usual sarcastic, capable self, but of course he and Ms. Fawcett have nothing to do. Same goes for poor poor Harvey Keitel, who is both wasted AND horribly dubbed over by a stiff British actor as the human villain of the film.

The screenplay by original director John Barry (not the composer, this was the second unit director and effects supervisor for the original Star Wars films) and acclaimed (and excessively witty/ascerbic/cynical) author Martin Amis throws out some brief, fleetingly interesting ideas (an earlyish example of the “Earth is shit in the future” subgenre, the hydroponics station being located on Saturn’s 3rd moon which is covered mostly in water, and the basic idea of the food research station usurping this unique situation), but is overall flattened by behind the scenes tinkering to make the film more of an Alien clone.

Replacement director (did I mention the behind the scenes problems?) Stanley Donen doesn’t know what he’s doing with special effects (slashed budget, unfortunately cheap-o effects,) suspense (although the infamous “eye cleaning” sequence IS wonderful,) science fiction in general or having such a small cast in tight quarters (they are relegated to endless scenes of running down corridors and crawling through ducts and the like, always brings to mind French and Saunder’s deliciously wonderful parody of Aliens.)

HOWEVER, the production design of the Saturn 3 station itself is quite nice (I wonder if the folks behind the look of Kurt Wimmer’s Ultraviolet drew some inspiration here) AND the one thing the film is most remembered for, the 8 foot tall, semi-human in appearance, insanely evil and intensely menacing robotic antagonist, Hector, is astounding. Most people, myself included, hold the film in much, much higher regard than it warrants simply due to the presence of this mechanical nightmare that really shouldn’t be terrifying (thanks to his tiny, tiny head) but very much is.

Oh, also, (at the time 64 year old) Kirk Douglas fights Harvey Keitel in the film… naked… Let that soak in for you. Farrah BARELY even pops a tit out, but Spartacus? Full pickle and saggy arse.

Hence the title of the article. And it was THAT fight scene that made me wish to watch Eastern Promises (2007) again (I had seen it in the theater, love David Cronenberg,) but remembered nothing beyond Viggo Mortensen’s wonderful body, buns and cack… and something about Russian Mobsters or something.

Really though? That’s pretty much all there is in the end… It’s one of those critically lauded films that I just don’t particularly see the wow factor in.

The plot, direction and performances are all VERY sedate, TOO sedate for the subject matter. Usually Cronenberg’s clinical approach creates a unique and engrossing (also, typically disturbingly unflinching) experience, but this time around it’s more of a slow, steady, muddled lapse into a snooze caught on film. (Even the major twist, while decent in concept, is spoiled in execution.)

It’s by no means a bad movie though, just a somewhat boring, meandering, relatively uninteresting one. (It seems to me almost as if Cronenberg was trying to make his own John Cassavettes type deal and then the two styles didn’t mesh.)

The central message (I think) of finding hope, redemption and yadda yadda yadda in a frightening, violent and imperfect world; as well as the whole mob angle and moral grey areas were covered much more thoroughly (and entertainingly) in Mortensen and Cronenberg’s first team up, 2005’s A History of Violence (granted they had a staggeringly wonderful villainous turn from Ed Harris propelling that film along.)

Eastern Promises is elevated, somewhat, by Viggo. He’s always watchable and affects the relatively go-nowhere part in the film with a slightly sparkling charm that accounts for a lot (not Oscar nomination worthy as it was, but…) and then there is the nudity.

For a gay film viewer it’s always nice to see penis on screen (particularly from A-List , very attractive stars) much less for five straight minutes (during a wonderfully brutal fight scene in a bath house.)

Granted I know Cronenberg was aiming for the discomfort button with the scene (since audiences are ALL profoundly terrified of male nudity it would seem,) but still, I thank him and Viggo for it.

Also, to be of note, I do still look forward to The Canadian Horror Maestro and Aragorn’s next match up, A Dangerous Method coming soon (trailer looks brilliant,) if they can do it once, they can do it again.

Saturn 3, 5 out of 10 unique uses for decapitated heads.

Eastern Promises, 5 out of 10 graphic finger severings.


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